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‘Me and My Medicines’ is a campaign led by patients and supported by clinical staff to help people raise concerns and use their medicines better. This will help everyone benefit from more effective and safer care.

‘It’s OK to Ask’

‘It’s OK to Ask’ means patients, families and carers are encouraged to ask questions about their medicines so that they can be helped to get the most benefit.

Medicines are widely used by the NHS to prevent and treat poor health.

When medicines are not taken or used properly, it can lead to poor and worsening health and wellbeing.

Everyone helping the patient’s experience of the NHS, including Community Pharmacy, GPs, Hospital Doctors, Nurses and Hospital Pharmacy are being encouraged to listen to, better understand, and help overcome problems when using medicines.

It is expected that, by adopting this approach, more people will have the confidence to use their medicines as agreed.

How have patients and carers been involved in developing the campaign?

The way the Medicines Communication Charter has been created is

  • Producing an easy read summary of the purpose and introduction to the project and its aims for anyone who was interested in getting involved.
  • Additional support from the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (Y&H AHSN) in the form of administrative resource and shared experiences of running focus groups and structuring patient involvement in care pathways.
  • Support from a variety of organisations across Leeds to help set up focus groups in different areas of the city and to meet with patients and their families and carers to hear about their issues and their ideas for improvement in the use of medicines.
  • Keeping the Leeds Area Prescribing Committee regularly updated on progress and developments with the project through regular feedback to the committee.
  • Organising the feedback and ideas into a short summary which then formed the basis of the medicines communication charter itself.
  • A specialist brand development organisation, BML, incorporated the messages into an easily recognisable and unique brand that would enable both patients and professionals to associate the key messages with their own contributions to using medicines more effectively.
  • Sharing the early versions of the approach with a variety of stakeholders to gain their views and feedback for incorporation into the ongoing refinement of the charter.
  • Involving people in producing a comprehensive set of resources that carry the branding to enable organisations and individuals to engage with and incorporate the ideas into their every day approach to the more effective and safer use of medicines.

Why is this important?

Medicines are the most common intervention used by the NHS to prevent illness and improve health and wellbeing. The scope for improvement in the effective safe and appropriate use of medicines is considerable and has been widely documented over many decades.

Despite this effort the problem appears to be as widespread as ever with the strategies implemented to address this having achieved limited impact to date. Conversations with patients, their family members and carers reveal that all too often patients leave a consultation or other health professional encounter with unresolved medicines related issues. Questions that they should have asked but didn’t or issues and concerns that for whatever reason have not been shared or discussed when they should have been.

Patients have a direct and clear role in achieving the desired result from using medicines, not least because they can choose when and how to take their medicines or, indeed, not to take them at all. The majority of these people have long term conditions which account for approximately 70% of Health and Social Care spend, 68% of outpatient and A&E activity, 70% of inpatient bed days and 50% of GP appointments across the NHS.

It makes sense therefore that in order to have the greatest impact on  improving the health and wellbeing of the population, and to reduce the inequalities in health and wellbeing outcomes, addressing unresolved issues relating to medicines is arguably the most important place to focus effort and resources at this time.

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